Disgust as spitter walks away from court

let down by justice: Charity shop volunteer Alex Laydon was spat at by a would-be thief.
let down by justice: Charity shop volunteer Alex Laydon was spat at by a would-be thief.
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A THIEF spat in a brave charity shop worker’s face when she tried to stop him stealing a coin collection box.

Volunteer Alexandra Laydon saw Steven Nicholson acting suspiciously in the Sue Ryder shop, in Fulwell, and confronted him when she saw him pick up a jar containing coins.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 33-year-old yob, who has 94 previous convictions, hurled abuse and spat in Alex’s face.

Nicholson, of Southwick Road, admitted attempted theft and common assault.

Judge James Goss sentenced him to five months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with drug rehabilitation requirements, 100 hours’ unpaid work and £50 compensation to be paid to Alex.

Alex, 22, said: “I can’t believe he has got away with it.

“You get more punishment for a driving offence than he has got for spitting in someone’s face. I feel utterly let down.”

In court, prosecutor Jacqueline Wilkinson said that when he was questioned in the shop, Nicholson “started to become very abusive.

“He was shouting and swearing. It was a very frightening situation for her.

“He pushed his forehead into her forehead and then, without warning, he moved back and spat in her face. She closed her eyes and washed the spit off.”

Following the incident last June, Alex, a former St Anthony’s School pupil, told police: “I give up my time to help in the shop. I do not expect to be assaulted. I was fearful for my safety and I was left very shaken due to this unprovoked attack.”

Nicholson, whose previous convictions include dishonesty and violence, admitted an unrelated charge of allowing his premises to be used to grow cannabis.

The judge said: “She is someone who was volunteering to give her time for others and you were sufficiently mean to attempt to steal charity money that had been given to people less fortunate than yourself.

“When challenged by the person doing her level best to stop you stealing your behaved in this outrageous way.”

The judge said he had wanted to order Nicholson to serve some time behind bars before coming out to a rehabilitative sentence in the community, but no such sentence exists in law.

Nigel Barnes, defending, said Nicholson was deeply ashamed.

He said; “At the time of the offences last May and June, he was on a wave of appalling behaviour, primarily fuelled by continued and excessive, uncontrolled use of Valium.”